Appalachian Thursday – Brown Mountain Lights

I love mysteries and unexplained phenomenon. Miracles even.

Lately I’ve been reading about the Brown Mountain Lights–a mysterious occurrence people sometimes see on a mountain about an hour east of where I live in NC. Brown Mountain is in the Linville Gorge near Morganton, NC, and there are two popular overlooks for folks wanting to see the ghostly lights–the Brown Mountain Overlook and Wiseman’s View.

Of course, there’s no guarantee you’ll see them if you go, but October and November are said to be the best months during clear, moonless nights. The lights seem to appear both in the sky above the mountain and among the trees. Sometimes they’re brief and other times they dance and linger.

Theories/stories include:

  • Swamp gas (of course, there aren’t any swamps around there)
  • Headlights from the valley (except people saw them before cars were around)
  • Foxfire (phosphorescent light from decaying wood–my favorite theory!)
  • Moon dogs (moonlight shining on haze–oh wait, they show up on moonless nights)
  • Lanterns being carried by ghostly Indian maidens looking for braves killed in battle
  • A slave looking for his master who disappeared while hunting (there’s a song for that one)
  • The souls of a woman and her child murdered by her philandering husband
  • A revolutionary war hero searching fruitlessly for his family

Scientists from Appalachian State University have even studied the lights and, yes, have recorded them. And yet we’re no closer to knowing what they are.

Which I kind of like. In a world where so much wonder has been explained away I like that there are still some mysteries we simply cannot explain.

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